UCLan training mine sweepers

Some of the training team involved in the UCLan drone training
Some of the training team involved in the UCLan drone training
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Academics from Preston’s university have been helping train soldiers from Cambodia in how to rid their country of its millions of unexploded land mines.

Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire have been helping train members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces on how to use high street drones for mine clearance and peace keeping operations in Cambodia and during United Nations missions around the world.

A DJI quadcopter drone in use for training to clear land mines in Cambodia, a project UCLan has been pioneering

A DJI quadcopter drone in use for training to clear land mines in Cambodia, a project UCLan has been pioneering

Using drones, the RCAF will now be able to map out terrain that could potentially contain mines and identify suspicious items or roadside devices without putting lives at risk by having to physically enter those spaces.

Both practical and classroom-based training for the quadcopter drones was provided by researchers from UCLan, the Furniture for Education Worldwide (FEW) charity and UNITE the Union, and was supported by UK-based photographer and commercial drone pilot, Dave Severns-Jones.

Over three days, the RCAF students were taught about practical flying, air law, how to conduct flights safely, understanding the weather and practical drone maintenance.

Dr Darren Ansell, space and aerospace lead at UCLan and one of the leading trainers involved in the project, said: “It’s surprising that the use of drones to support mine clearance operations is not more common now that the technology is readily available, particularly in countries like Cambodia which is one of the most heavily mined areas in the world.

“This is certainly one of the first uses by the RCAF of off-the-shelf high street drones for this type of operation.

“It’s a simple tool but it will go a long way towards increasing the safety of Cambodia’s armed forces when they’re surveying dangerous spaces or suspicious objects, and will ultimately save lives.”